My youngest son turns fifteen this Sunday. This birthday is bitter-sweet. When he was little I joked of my plan to tie rocks to his hands so he wouldn't grow. But grow, he did. I lovingly marvel at his human-being-ness. His Christlikeness. His flaws.
When his father moved out last summer, I awakened to the sad reality that I didn't really know my son. Yes, I cooked for him. Yes, I provided a home that is warm and inviting. Yes, I fussed over him the way moms do, but I can't honestly say (because I couldn't honestly see) how much he needed to know in his bones that I loved and accepted teenage-him.
When he was little, Mommy-routines were easy to establish. I read to him every night. I cut the crust off his sandwiches. I braved school field trips. I kissed the boo boos. But those days are over. At age eight, he got his first electric guitar and he's been in love with music ever since. And while he appreciates most genres, at fifteen, the louder--the better. We needed new ways to bond, and fast. But how?
How can I connect with my son in a way that matters to him, not just me.
By listening to more heavy metal than any mother has a right to.
P.S. Advil is a gift.
God's the boss. So, when my son played his guitar, I listened. Not from the next room, but rather, in his room, where I could watch his fingers scale the neck of the guitar. At first, I feared my head would explode, but this didn't stop me from saying, "Play it again." Eventually, he asked me to listen to the lyrics. That's when it hit me. He needed heavy metal to work through his anger about his dad and me separating. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. It's not like he could hop in the car and take a drive, go shopping, or sit in the sun and drink a beer. (Some of the ways we adults de-stress when we're not in church.) Music was his only outlet.
The more I embraced his music, the more embraced he felt. Each morning we pass an elementary school on the way to high school. I wonder what the cross guard thinks of us: One middle-aged mother in her pajamas, one teenage boy, two dogs with their heads hanging out the window--heavy metal blaring. And when I suggest we pray the Lord's prayer before he gets out of the car, my son no longer roll his eyes. He then walks toward his school without looking back (they don't turn and wave forever), and I turn the radio O-F-F, without regret.
We've learned to embrace each other. These days, we talk. He tells me about his day. I listen. Shocker: He asks me about mine. I know the Spirit of the Lord is upon us because our evening chats take place in the kitchen where we roast marshmallows over a gas burner.
We both rock at it!
How about you? What about this story resinates in your heart in regards to your loved ones? Your needs, and theirs.
Published on Friday, March 28, 2014 @ 10:49 AM CDT